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Study Links Environmental Toxins As Risk Factor For Autism

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DETROIT (WWJ) – There’s more evidence environmental pollution might be a risk factor for autism. University of Chicago researchers analyzed medical records and found for every one percent increase in genital birth defects in boys, autism rates rose by close to 300 percent.

Providence-St John Environmental Medicine Expert Doctor Michael Harbut says, the science is solid with this research.

“It’s really a very significant study, and should trigger the medical community, the scientific community and the government … looking at this especially interesting avenue for the prevention of autism,” said Dr. Harbut.

Over 100 million medical records were examined for the study.

“We know that one of the ways to show that there is a problem with pollution is to show through the presence of these reproductive defects and we know that there is a relationship between the presence of these defects .. and the presence of autism related disorders,” he said.

“I think the study shows a pathway that can be followed, that will most likely yield some practical useful, everyday results, the math stands on its own. It’s a promising avenue of investigation,” he said.

Harbut agrees with autism experts who believe the disorder develops from a combination of genetic vulnerability and a number of environmental exposures.

“Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country,”  study author Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, professor of genetic medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago told Science Daily dot com. “This gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong.”

Male fetuses are particularly sensitive to toxins such as environmental lead, sex hormone analogs, medications and other synthetic molecules, the publication said.

The study is published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

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